Elizabeth Abbey

Justice Agencies
Winter 2012

As part of the Aurora Native Title Internship Program, I was placed at the Darwin branch of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) for the winter 2012 internship round.
This was the perfect time to travel to the top of Australia for some perfect weather and a great professional and social experience! NAAJA has a wide range of interns, both Aurora and GDLP students, and they are well set up to make interns feel welcome and valued. The large number of interns also provides you with a ready-made set of weekend travel companions, as there are many beautiful places within 3 hours of Darwin well worth travelling including Katherine Gorge, Litchfield Park and Kakadu. The staff go out of their way to get to know you despite the short duration of your stay, and to provide you with some very informative cultural awareness training.

NAAJA also provides a broad variety of areas of law to experience, whether in its civil, criminal or advocacy sections. I was placed in the civil section and was given a variety of tasks including research into Stolen Generations and Forced Adoption legislation and cases, assisting in child protection court hearings, researching personal injury and negligence cases, as well as sitting in on client interviews. The number of areas in which NAAJA provides assistance to Indigenous people really gives you a broad overview of the issues faced by a large number of Indigenous Australians.

All sections also make regular trips to bush clinics and bush courts and NAAJA staff make a deliberate effort to try to take you along as many trips as they can. I was fortunate enough to head out to Wadeye, one of the largest remote Indigenous communities in the Top End, which we travelled to by a tiny chartered plane. It was very rewarding to know that your work was needed and useful to people’s lives, many of whom do not speak fluent English! I would definitely recommend travelling outside your comfort zone to somewhere more remote, as it is such a different world and you get to see places you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to.

Overall, my Aurora internship was such a great experience, I would highly recommend it!
For more information on NAAJA, visit http://www.naaja.org.au/.